In his second column, the Chennai Express actor says if you seek mystery instead of the answer, you will always be seeking. Read on to know more…
I looked up Scorpios on the net and found that they are the cars Rohit Shetty gleefully sends flying into the air. On further research I arrived at Scorpio the sun sign. I found that being a Scorpio implies the following list of qualities: determination, fearlessness, sensuality, poise, loyalty, ambition, intuitiveness, a jealous and controlling nature, secretiveness, resentfulness, ruthlessness and a tendency towards mystery! Much as I would like to pontificate on all these wonderful (or not so wonderful) traits, I (as a true blooded Scorpio) am supposed to possess, I think ‘mystery’ is the one that lends itself most to fifteen hundred words on a good November morning.
As a kid, I was an observer of people. I remember observing that a legendary uncle of mine would assume a morose, pondering posture now and then and stare deeply into the universe as if it held a great secret only he could decipher. “Interesting,” I thought, “it gives him an air of mystery, I wouldn’t mind being mysterious too” so I began to stare deeply into space and pretend I was morose now and then as well. It worked wonders! The grown ups began thinking that I was a deeply philosophical little boy. This gained me some positive attention while I was actually just contemplating sibling strategy (like how to overhear the girlie talk my sister shared with her friends in her room).
I learnt two important life lessons very early
1. Mystery is a clever psychological device; an excellent camouflage for all sorts of idiosyncrasies. It is most useful if wanting to fend off annoying conversation. Better still, if attempting to acquire an enigmatic aura or generally throwing your weight around.
2. If life were revelatory and bare, it would be deathly boring. So a little mystery is essential to a compelling life.
Thereon I decided that device or not, looking at life in terms of mysteries was a far better approach to it than taking it merely for what it appeared to be saying to me on the surface. I began to search for stories in everything and in doing so I began also, to understand the magical world of story telling that I later came to inhabit professionally.
Mystery has a knack of building upon itself. It begins with wonder and intrigue. The human mind is impatient with intrigue. It’s need to resolve, understand and simplify arises.
Hypotheses are developed, and theories thought up in an attempt to explain the inexplicable. But explanations have a curious twist. Invariably they read the myths of life at particular levels leaving other depths unresolved. This allows for new stories to come forth and lend themselves to exploration. Mysteries abound where we most seek answers and answers lead to new questions in a cyclical process. You figure one thing out and another pops up on top of it. Let me explain this revelation with a few of the mysteries that confound my intellect.
Like for example: Who designs the hyper space age hydraulic weapons masquerading as benign shower jets in glitzy hotel loos? The bathroom environs are enticing. Veined marbles, great smelling lotions in miniscule bottles, all lead the unsuspecting fellow craving a bath into their evil fold. As he strips and gingerly enters the shower cubicle he is confronted by a shower system that looks like, Mangal Yaan (the satellite being shot into Mars’ orbit, by India). All the knobs, handles, function keys, delete and escape command buttons, confound the simple man looking for a simple bath. He can’t figure out, which one is to be pulled, pushed, turned or pressed. He approaches the most friendly looking switch with caution and looks up in anticipation (because that’s where a shower normally begins its downward journey). Instead a murderous assault of water missiles is unleashed onto him from deviously placed nozzles that aim at odd places all over his body. Before he knows it he is playing a paint-less version of Paintball with sneaky little water jets firing at him from all sides. If he is of a more agile disposition (like me) then he ends up doing the hitherto unknown Kathakali Rain dance.
There is an old quote stating something to the effect that… Marriage is like getting the mix of hot and cold water right in the shower. These space age showers might just give matrimony a whole new meaning!
And while we’re on mysteries I want to know why my whole body shouldn’t be immersed in the bathtub for a nice hot soak. If I push my chest inside, why do my knees stick out and vice versa. Is that too much to wonder? Should I shut up before Apple comes out with a user friendly version.
“Slide to immerse knees at the same time as chest.”
Having Kathakali danced his way through his shower, our valiant hotel guest may now turn his attention to the mystery of those infernal panels they affix on the bedside with little symbols indicating which button controls what light. One minute it’s Diwali, the next a throbbing nightclub, the third plunges him into abject darkness and the curtains will have suddenly splayed so that the entire universe might envelope him in its mysteriously morose stare. I will not even venture into describing the furry shoeshine contraption they have lying in wait innocently beside the cupboard. It reminds me of a little grey monster from Monsters Inc. waiting to gobble you up feet first. All that will be left of the guest, is a shiny burp. Shudder.
And are you all with me on this one. The tightness with which they tuck the duvet into the grooves on the side of hotel beds. Snuggling into them is like getting into a pair of jeans two sizes too small. If you haven’t asphyxiated by morning, chances are you will end up having a massive case of ‘Toelio’, bent toes! It’s a mystery why they can’t allow you to get into bed without warring with the Duvet Bin Laden. This is one reason you will never find me asking the house keeping in a hotel, to help me knot a tie around my neck!
Textually speaking, another modern mystery confronts us all today. The ‘short hand’ typing for short messaging service and social media. Internet language or Netlingo as it is lovingly addressed. It’s the language of the 21st century, they say. For 20 centuries, we barbaric humans have developed languages that will civilise us. Dictionaries that will enlighten us. Shakespeare’s sonnets that will make us fall in love (if we understood them, that is). So I would like to know who had the brilliant idea that we need to condense and distort them into Netlingo? I’m not arguing about languages like Basic and Cobol that enhance the usage of machines in our lives and modernise us? I’m talking about the stuff that regresses us to our barbaric, grunting days. So now we communicate in abbreviations. Short form. Text speak. Txt spk. They claim it facilitates communication. I heard Martha Stewart analyse the current human posture in her programme, something like this. Bent over a device, with no way of hearing any other sound except the skrillix music in our ears. What is to become of us? Instead of speaking to each other, we will write using a nonsensical array of letters. Texting will become our only form of communication and if we do speak, will we speak as we read?
But what we will read, will be gibberish. BYBO…CYA..OMG…JSU…LOL…ROFL. When you read it, it will sound surprisingly like grunting and heaving sounds. The ones we made when we were apes. Will our highly developed senses then embark upon the discovery of language once again? But we already have more than the languages we need!!! Doesn’t this make everyone wonder? Everyone except the rappers, I guess. They are okay with whatever abbreviation you use as long as you prefix or suffix it with F@#*.
But what’s even more mysterious to me is that people are now ‘Sexting’. Which means sending naked pictures on phones and the net and making out on the virtual plane instead of plain old Kashmiri rugs. Cyber6 it’s called. Cyber Sex to the uninitiated. Does anybody understand the enormity of this?? Soon we’ll all be cyber6ing and we’ll forget how to procreate. We are slowly destroying mankind…one message at a time. Don Altman said, “The digital frontier is a nurturing place where verbs and nouns are not only born, but in fact bear off-springs.” Yeah that’s very cool, but picture a world overrun with little verbs and nouns in pretty prams instead of the Farex babies we have sort of become so accustomed to. A wonderful author who goes by the name of Josh Gondelman, has done an exercise on the net, of converting famous movie quotes into text speak. Some of the results will bear testimony to my outcry of disbelief at what is happening to us:
GONE WITH THE WIND
“Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” becomes Seriously my dear, WTF!!
First rule: “You do not talk about Fight Club” becomes 1st rule: STFU
“You had me at hello” becomes You had me @ ’sup
I rest my case. There can’t be no great debate about it. Or should that be…no gr8 db8 abt tis. Which brings me to the abiding mystery of why human beings need to complicate the simplest things in their endless endeavour to uncomplicate their own lives. This also works in reverse: people get confounded by the camouflage of mysteriousness in a way that even the most mundane things become mystifying to them given the right context. Being a so-called superstar you end up surrounded by people who contextualise the silliest things into justifications for their own ideas of you. If anyone else were to declare they never used soap to bathe with, it would create an insufferable stink, as a superstar, it just adds to the repertoire of legends being woven around you. “And he doesn’t even use soap” they’ll whisper in a revelatory tone (I don’t by the way, but I’ve been told I smell fantastic, and there is no mystery here, I just use a lot of cologne.)
I’ve seen people use mystery to make themselves look truly superior and far more interesting than they actually are. It works like a charm. Especially when they fall for it themselves! There are those who begin to refer to themselves in the third person “He cannot wear these clothes in public” they’ll say, as you look around wondering which exhibitionist flasher exactly they’re referring to. Or then they’ll allude to their own body parts as if they belonged to a mysterious collective of body parts, “The arms were aching after like two hours of exercise bro.”
There’s another one they fancy, the one in which they mysteriously dissolve their own agency into public will, “The people want me to do this” they’ll proclaim expecting to be taken seriously. What people?! I wonder. I also wonder that if they took their head out their own caboose long enough, will they realise there is no one telling them to do anything. It’s a mystery to me why it’s never enough to be human or ordinary or just plain strange. Why do we have to cloak ourselves in the farce of extraordinariness just because we (mystically?) succeeded where others failed before us.
But then everything is a mystery to me and I like it that way. That’s the way I have been brought up. It’s my uncle’s fault. All of it
Like which armrest of my seat in a theater belongs to me.
Ownership is a mystery.
Why must we pluck flowers instead of admiring their beauty?
Why set luminous gems into jewels?
Why trap birds in cages instead of watching them soar into the sky?
Why show off river fish in your tacky little aquarium when they could be swimming currents downstream?
Why try to change people we love and then fall out of love with them because they changed?
I believe that we spend too much of our lives trying to know and find explanations for things. Why do we have trouble accepting the unknown in our world? It might be nice to let things be sometimes. Relationships. Love. Nature. People.
Whether we know something or not, it actually does not make a difference in the larger scheme of things because however deep our knowledge might be, it is still immensely limited.
Someone has said, “Knowing, is often just a cover up. Ideas, concepts, theories or mere facts are delusion or disguises we use to hide our fear of the inexplicable. When something is accepted in its entireity as a mystery, it actually means we know it deeper and more intuitively. Somewhere within our souls we are in a mode of ‘the accepting form of knowledge’. It encompasses our being as a whole.”
It’s like magic. If you understand the way it is done, it gets reduced to a trick. Its important to let the magic be magical to enjoy it to its fullest. Letting mystery be, requires courage and the security to live it without being afraid of the unknown. Acceptance of mystery leads to faith in life itself without fear. Mystery allows us to have Faith and ‘feel’ our way through life instead of deconstructing it. Like the Faith most of us have in God.
Ken Kesey puts this most aptly: “I am for mystery, not interpretive answers. The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek mystery instead of the answer, you will always be seeking. I have never seen nobody really find the answer, but they think they have.
So they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” Or as Arthur Stanley explains it, “We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about ‘and’.” Though I am a Scorpio, I still believe that it is better to go through this life without finding an answer. Because the answer as Douglas Adams told us, could possibly be 42. And if 42 is the answer, wouldn’t that leave us a tad disappointed, to say the least.
PS: By the way, even though I believe in what I have written above, I still desperately want to know… Who let the dogs out??? Who ? Who??